With the exception of the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo, most global indices ended the trading day on a down note as concerns over the fiscal cliff in the U.S. and the European debt crisis continued to weigh on investors.
The Nikkei 225 in Tokyo rose 0.2 percent to close at 9,388.94, while the Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong lost 0.2 percent to 21,861.81.
The European markets closed down as euro zone finance ministers, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank met in Brussels to finalize a further tranche of funding worth 31.2 billion euros, or $40.5 billion at current exchange, for Greece. In addition, Italian consumer confidence fell to a record low.
The FTSE 100 in London was down 0.6 percent to 5,786.72; the CAC 40 in Paris dipped 0.8 percent to 3,500.94, and the DAX in Frankfurt declined 0.2 percent to 7,292.03. The FTSE MIB sank 0.7 percent to 15,520.14.
Retail and luxury stocks were mostly down, with the day’s biggest declines including Mulberry and Swatch Group, which were both down 1.4 percent to 10.45 pounds and 74.55 Swiss francs, respectively. Asos.com dropped 0.7 percent to 23.69 pounds, while L’Oréal closed 0.2 percent down, at 14.15 euros, following an announcement that it has acquired Urban Decay from the private equity firm Castanea Partners.
Among the stocks making gains were French Connection Group, which was up 2.1 percent to 24 pence; Inditex, 0.5 percent to 103 euros; and Safilo, which rose 0.3 percent to 6.48 euros.
As Greece’s international creditors were in talks to discuss an aid package for the country, it was still unclear whether creditors will have to accept a writedown on the funds they have loaned Greece.
In Italy, consumer confidence fell to a record low in October as the country continues to grapple with recession and feeble domestic demand.
In the U.S., the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.3 percent to 12,967.37, while the S&P Retail Index was down 0.4 percent to 538.93.
The big concern on Wall Street was primarily the U.S. holiday shopping season as data started coming in on sales over the Black Friday to Cyber Monday sales weekend. One concern was that retailers were getting their sales but mostly because of heavier-than-usual discounting.
Also weighing on the minds of investors was the upcoming fiscal cliff, which is expected to push the U.S. economy into another recession if lawmakers are unable to agree on budget issues over taxes and spending.
The two top gainers were Express Inc., up nearly 5.5 percent to close at $12.88, and The Bon-Ton Stores Inc., up 5.4 percent to $11.86.
Zale Corp. continued its slide down, losing nearly 5 percent in trading to close at $4.78, following Wednesday’s report of a first-quarter loss of $28.3 million, or 88 cents a diluted share, which was 20 cents more than what analysts were expecting. Aéropostale Inc. declined over concerns that it was losing market share to its mall competitors Abercrombie & Fitch Co. and American Eagle Outfitters Inc. Shares of Aéropostale fell 4.7 percent to close at $13.77. Others who saw a decline were Macy’s Inc., falling nearly 4.5 percent to close at $39.86, and Nordstrom Inc., declining 4.1 percent to $54.24.